Yes Lawd! The groove master of hip-hop is back with his most epic release yet. Anderson Paak’s new album, Oxnard, is sensual, smart, and cinematic. The album acts not only as a soundtrack for Paak’s life, but it also offers the listener a guidebook on modern life. From front to back, Anderson drives through current times in a vintage style.
Where to begin? First off, the tone of the voices on this album is fantastic. Anderson is obviously trying to get something off his chest. Songs, like “6 Summers” and “Brother’s Keeper”, helps Anderson voices his frustration with politics and social media. “6 Summers” is some of the most intelligent writing I’ve heard in a while.
“Trump’s got a love child and I hope that bitch is buckwild
I hope she sip Mosca-, I hope she kiss senoritas and black gals
I hope her momma’s El Salv, I hope her poppa stick around, yeah
…My jack rang off with clickbait
Truth is too raw, it’s a fish plate
…The revolution will not be televised but it will be streamed live in 1080p on your peabrain head in the face ass mobile device, alright!“
I don’t usually like to break down lyrics phrase by phrase, but the masterful wordsmithing of Paak needs to be highlighted. Now, Anderson is obviously not the only hip-hop artist to publicly go against Trump, but what he does is unique. He promotes the notion of this love child going against every idea the president has preached. He states Trump’s love of his hypercritical nature, while also wishing for him to stick around in the life of a child who goes against him. Paak speaks of a cyber society that wishes to take fake actions via social media while ignoring the uglier truth. He also makes the point of calling out the public’s obsession with virtue signaling, while not actually acting. Paak is angry, but he is not speaking from a point of rage. He is speaking from a point of contemplation.
The aggression of the lyrics during the verses are complemented by the sexual rasp of Anderson’s voice. When he is not attacking the beat himself, Anderson gets outstanding features (including Pusha T, Kendrick Lamar, and Dr. Dre among many others) to do the heavy lifting. The intensity of the lyrics during the verses is complimented by the gentle ruggedness of Anderson’s voice. This coarse tone is also pulled back throughout the album during “Trippy” and “Sweet Chick”. By collaborating with J.Cole and BJ the Chicago Kid, Anderson proves to be the Stevie Wonder of the new millennium. He is a multi-instrumentalist and producer who brings out the best in those who work with him. He elevates everyone around him; no matter what their style is.
Similar to Anderson’s other releases, the album creates a narrative that flows throughout its entirety. That narrative is a picturesque drive from the city to the coast in the summertime. The story is originated by the instrumentals. The rhythm section helps to power each song, like a V-12 engine. The synths and pianos dress every inch of the groove, like the interior. Finally, the guitar decorates the exterior, like a fine paint job. The diversity of middle voices, like the varying type of synth pads and effects, help to give a different texture to each song. For example “Smile/Petty”, uses an overpowering pad to give a 70’s vibe, while “Headlow” uses what sounds like an Omnichord to give the track an angelic harp filler. The emphasis for each track is the groove, but those middle voices add a nice touch to the lower grinds of the album.
The production of Oxnard is massive. Similar to Venice, the album adds strings to enhance the spectacle of the production itself but allows for voices and lyrics to breathe at certain points. The production is focused on making sure the snare is tight, the bass is thick, and the voices are predominant. As a producer, Paak definitely knows how to create a good template that does not overcrowd. That is what is most important.
The whole album. Literally, the whole album. If you had to make me choose I would say:
“Sweet Chick”, “Brother’s Keeper”, “Anywhere”, and “Tints”
Oxnard brings together the best elements of Paak’s previous releases. The high-quality production and R&B grooves of Malibu, the emotional intensity and grandiose nature of Venice, and the collaborative writing of NxWorries are all wrapped up and perfected in Oxnard. At different times in this album, you wanna take to the streets and start a revolution and other times you wanna wrap yourself up with the one you love and ignore the outside world. Anderson Paak makes sure that you can groove doing either of those things. As Paak states, “This shit gonna bang at least six summers!”
– Peter McDermott